The urban HINOs (Hindu in name only) who dominate the country’s advertising industry are well known for their Hindu-baiting tendencies.
So first it was Reliance Trends and Tata-AIA insurance preaching to Hindus about perceived ecological damage caused by one day of cracker bursting. Then came the anti-pollution ad campaigns on the eve of Diwali to peddle Panasonic or Honeywell air purifiers.
Now it’s the turn of a market laggard toothpaste ‘Close Up’ of Hindustan Lever (the Indian subsidiary of British-Dutch MNC Unilever) to preach to ‘rigid and intolerant’ Hindus as part of their #FreeToLove campaign.
The CloseUp coloured gel toothpaste positions its brand at the teen market, with ads claiming that using the toothpaste is a sure-shot way of getting up close and personal with the opposite sex. But the toothpaste company, or at least its ad agency, is now moving beyond mere claims of eliminating bad breath and delivering pearly-white teeth, to cleaning ‘regressive’ Hindu mindsets as well.
The #FreeToLove campaign film showcases 3 couples (whether real or imagined, is not clear) who were not free to love due to rigid social norms: a homosexual male couple, and two heterosexual couples – inter-caste Hindus and a Hindu woman – Muslim man couple.
Mind you – these couples are all part of the upper crust English-speaking segment that CloseUp probably considers its target segment, or whose lifestyle the rest of the country’s youth (including rurban ones) aspire to.
The not so subtle messaging of the film: homosexuality is opposed by all segments of Indian society (one of the gay men has a Christian name), but when it comes to heterosexuals, it’s the ‘bigoted Hindus’ who are the issue.
Those of us living in metros know from personal experience that caste or region is far-far less of a consideration today in urban Hindu marriages, even arranged ones, where parents heave a sigh of relief just at the news that their children have finally agreed to marry! As for inter-religious marriages, the elephant-in-the-room question that liberal HINOs look past is – why do Hindu families have such an aversion to their children marrying a Muslim, unlike inter-religious matrimonial alliance with a Jain, Sikh, Buddhist or even Christian which do not elicit the same level of opposition?
Could it be that historical evidence of how such relations usually work out, and the stream of contemporary cases of deceit, abuse & fraud – classified under the politically incorrect term ‘Love Jihad’ – reported from all sections of society, sets off a warning light in parents’ minds? Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but just because liberals choose to believe that Islamism or Islamic fundamentalism is a non-issue, doesn’t mean that ordinary people should stick their heads in the sand too. Here is some sound advice from a man who has experience with hundreds of Hindu woman-Muslim man love affairs, including ones between middle class well-educated youth, that later turned sour –
- My appeal to Hindu girls is to check the identity of the boy before falling in love or having an affair – check the boy’s Aadhar card like we do in everything else. Urban, educated Hindus have weakened in their faith – puja is no longer performed daily in households and has reduced to merely festival times. Parents need to end their consumerist and self-centered attitudes and rectify this. Hindu girls are trapped by Muslim boys who initially pretend that they too are irreligious, it is only after marriage that they are forced to adopt Muslim norms & their freedoms are snatched away.
With a ‘minority’ population of ~ 250 million and growing (India will have the largest population of Muslims by 2050), isn’t it time that our liberal creative types snapped out of their Hindu-bashing mindsets and started advocating reform within Muslim and Christian communities too where the contempt for ‘idol-worshipping’ Hindus is all too real?
The ad industry is part of a cabal which includes Bollywood and left-liberal thought leaders in news media and academics – this lot believes it is their duty to civilize the Hindu masses who are supposedly wallowing in a cauldron of orthodoxy, patriarchy, communalism and superstition. Expecting them to change out of a sense of self-correction is living in a fool’s paradise. Hindus have to take control of the narrative being built around them, and expose HINO hypocrisy at every turn.
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